Former second baseman, coach honored with plaque in Monument Park
By Alden Woods
NEW YORK -- In the sandlots of Brooklyn years ago, Willie Randolph had a crush, so he did the only thing he knew -- grabbed a stick and started playing stickball, doing his best to stand out and impress her.
Forty-two years later, Gretchen Randolph sat behind her husband as he took to a podium in Yankee Stadium. Randolph was honored with a plaque in the Yankees' famed Monument Park as part of the 69th annual Old-Timers' Day. He appeared in 1,688 games at second base with the team, more than any other player at the position in Yankees history, and also was a coach.
In the Yankees' dugout along the first-base line, more than 50 former Yankees watched on. Randolph's No. 30 was painted on the grass in front of them.
"The coolest thing about this day is I get to share it with all my guys," Randolph said.
After his 11-minute speech -- "I'm not usually speechless, everybody knows that." -- Randolph joined them to start yet another Old-Timers' Day. Each Yankee was introduced as highlights from his career played on the video board in center field.
As the roll call ran through, a history of the Yankees unfurled, from Whitey Ford to Johnny Damon. Out came Reggie "Mr. October" Jackson, World Series-winning manager Joe Torre and stolen-base king Rickey Henderson. Don Larsen, he of the perfect game in the 1956 World Series, followed in a golf cart.
With six Hall of Famers on the field and the full slate of Old-Timers in place, the Yankees unveiled a surprise. It was still Randolph's day, they said, but he'd have to share it.
Mel Stottlemyre, who pitched 11 years for the Yankees and won four World Series as a coach under Torre, was also given a plaque in Monument Park. Like Randolph, Stottlemyre wore No. 30 as a Yankee.
Then came the traditional Old-Timers' Game, which featured more laughs than well-hit balls. Each Old-Timer took a turn at the plate before clearing the field.
Just another game at Yankee Stadium.
"I just remember walking out on this field for the first time, thinking, 'I'm living the dream,'" Randolph said. "I'm still living the dream. I mean, look at this. I'm in uniform at 60 years old, playing baseball with all my boys. I don't want to wake up."
Alden Woods is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.